MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
05/16/2014 4:47 PM
05/16/2014 4:52 PM
New York (3-3-5) at Toronto (3-4-0), 4:30 p.m.
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Eastern Conference contenders will meet at BMO Field on Saturday as Toronto FC will play host to Red Bull New York.
Both clubs harbor hopes of contending for the MLS Supporters' Shield as well as MLS Cup, but slow starts have seen the two sides drift away from top spot.
The Red Bulls saw their four-game unbeaten run come to an end last time out as they suffered a 5-4 home loss to the Chicago Fire.
New York was undone by Harry Shipp's hat trick, but one bright spot for the club was the another strong offensive output from Bradley Wright-Phillips, who answered the Fire rookie with a hat trick of his own. It was a piece of MLS history as it marked the first time that players on opposing teams netted hat tricks in the same match.
Wright-Phillips has scored eight goals in his last four games to climb to the top of the MLS scoring chart with nine goals on the season. There simply is no hotter striker in the league at the moment.
"Bradley's been hot," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said in a conference call on Tuesday. "It's unfortunate because any game that you saw score four goals in, one player has a hat trick at home, and you walk away with a loss, there's something very freakish about that.
"But Bradley is coming into his own lately - over the last four, five games - and that's very refreshing and very good for us and individually for his confidence."
Toronto, meanwhile, has hit a bit of a rough patch after opening the season with three wins from four matches. The Reds have lost three straight, most recently falling in a 2-1 home defeat to the New England Revolution.
Things will not get much easier for the Reds, who will be without Michael Bradley in the lead-up to the World Cup.
In order to bolster its midfield, Toronto pulled off a trade with the Montreal Impact that sent Issey Nakajima-Farran to the Stade Saputo in exchange for Collen Warner.
"We felt the need to acquire an experienced MLS central midfielder like Collen Warner was necessary as we approach the break, coupled with the loss of Michael to the U.S. national team," said Toronto general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "Collen provides a different look in the midfield for us and to be successful in this league you need to be multidimensional. Collen is someone we strongly admire as a player and who believe can help us achieve our goals. We are pleased to welcome Collen to Toronto FC and expect him to fit in well with our group."
Warner was sent off in his last appearance with Montreal for denying Sporting Kansas City a scoring opportunity by handling the ball on the goal line. The Impact lost the match, 3-0.
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